Tuesday, May 8, 2012
The Works Of Wold Newton!
For all this wonderful creations, Philip Jose Farmer's greatest contribution to the imagination might well be his Wold Newton conceit. The concept did not originate with him exactly, but he developed it and refined it in a host of fiction and faux-non fiction writings in which such famous creations as Tarzan, Doc Savage, Sherlock Holmes, James Bond, Captain Nemo, Frankenstein, Zorro and many others were all part of the same sprawling family, a family whose genetic gifts were altered by a meteorite's radiation in the small British hamlet of Wold Newton. This secret history of the fictional family and world, blended with actual history formed a frame on which Farmer and later other writer hung all sorts of fanciful conglomerations of heroes and events. And yes this is where Alan Moore got his notion for The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen.
The Wold Newton story is most famously developed in Tarzan Alive and Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, and the novels The Mad Goblin, The Lord of the Trees,A Feast Unknown, and others.
Titan Books is set to begin a reprint run of these stories, the first time that I know that many of them have been published under one banner as a cohesive lot.
The first of these is scheduled to drop today. The Other Log of Phileas Fogg is the "real" story of what happened to the famous world traveler and why he really made his famous eighty-day journey. I own most of the Wold Newton books in one form or another, but it's been many many years since last read them, and to have in a handy and handsome set will be exceedingly neat.
One volume which is part of the saga has already been published. The Adventure of the Peerless Peer was published last year as part of Titan's "The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes" series, and it's a book I still need to get a copy of.
In many ways, the tiny paperback version of this tale was a linchpin my early interest in these pulpier heroes, and the notion that they might live in an alternate world where they mingled was delicious then and now.
Check out the Wold Newton universe at this link. If you know of it, it's a heady reminder, and if it's new to you, I envy your discovery.
Here's a gallery of upcoming Titan volumes. And here's a link with more details on the series.